Bayer AG has agreed to pay between $ 10.1 billion and $ 10.9 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits in the United States claiming its widely used herbicide, Roundup, caused cancer after more than a year of talks.
The German drug and pesticide maker also resolved dicamba drift disputes with a payment of up to $ 400 million and most polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) water disputes for a payment of around $ 820. millions of dollars.
Bayer has accepted about 75% of the 125,000 Roundup filed and un-filed lawsuits overall, he said in a statement on Wednesday over the deal to end litigation he inherited with his takeover of Monsanto for $ 63 billion in 2018.
The settled cases involving Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers represent about 95% of those currently pending, he added. The resolution also sets up a mechanism to effectively resolve potential future claims.
Weitz & Luxenberg was the first law firm to file a lawsuit against Monsanto in the fall of 2015, alleging that Roundup exposure caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma in tens of thousands of Americans, from farmers to landscapers and agents. maintenance to owners. The firm also served as co-lead counsel in the Roundup multi-district product liability litigation in the Northern District of California before the Honorable Vince Chhabria. The settlement comes as Weitz & Luxenberg prepared for trial dates that had already been set for 33 of those plaintiffs.
“It’s been a long journey, but we’re very happy to have obtained justice for the tens of thousands of people who through no fault of their own suffer from non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using a product Monsanto has assured them. that he was sure, ”said Robin Greenwald, Practice Group Chair, Environmental Pollution and Consumer Protection at Weitz & Luxenberg.
The Roundup Collective Agreement will be subject to the approval of Judge Vince Chhabria of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The resolutions were unanimously approved by Bayer’s Management Board and Supervisory Board with input from its Special Litigation Committee. The agreements contain no admission of liability or wrongdoing.
“Above all, settling Roundup is the right action at the right time for Bayer to end a long period of uncertainty,” said Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer. “It resolves most outstanding claims and sets up a clear mechanism to manage the risks of potential future litigation. It is financially reasonable in view of the significant financial risks associated with the continuation of multi-year litigation and the related impacts on our reputation and our activities. The decision to resolve the Roundup litigation allows us to fully focus on critical health care and food supply. It will also bring the conversation about the safety and usefulness of glyphosate herbicides back into the scientific and regulatory arena and across science. “
The three cases that have been tried – Johnson, Hardeman and Pilliod – will continue throughout the appeal process and are not covered by the settlement. It is important for the company to pursue these cases because the appeals will provide legal guidance going forward, Bayer said.
In an appeals court filing, the U.S. government expressed specific support for the company’s preemptive arguments, saying that the state law warning requests in the Roundup litigation conflict with federal law. American, requiring no cancer warning, and should be rejected. This week, a California federal judge found that the weight of scientific evidence did not support the state’s Proposition 65 cancer warning requirement for glyphosate-based herbicides – a decision that strengthens the very arguments that the company advanced at trial, Bayer said.
Baumann added: “Our business is founded on the well-being of our customers. As a scientific company committed to improving the health of people, we have great sympathy for anyone who suffers from any disease, and we understand their search for answers. At the same time, all of the science indicates that Roundup does not cause cancer and, therefore, is not responsible for the diseases alleged in this litigation. We strongly stand behind our glyphosate herbicides, which are among the most rigorously studied products of their kind, and four decades of science backs their safety and that they are not carcinogenic. In its decision to review the registration in January, the US Environmental Protection Agency correctly concluded that it “had not identified any risk to human health from exposure. to glyphosate “.
Customers, including farmers and other professional users who depend on glyphosate herbicides for their livelihoods, will not see any change in the availability of Roundup products under the Roundup deals announced today, Bayer noted. At the same time, the company said it remains committed to providing more choice to customers and announced an investment of around € 5 billion over 10 years last year to develop additional methods of dealing with bad herbs as part of an integrated approach to sustainable agriculture.
Bayer also announced a mass tort agreement to settle the previously disclosed dicamba drift litigation involving alleged crop damage. The company will pay up to $ 400 million in total to resolve the multi-district litigation pending in US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and claims for the 2015-2020 crop years. Claimants will be required to provide proof of damage to crop yields and evidence that they were due to dicamba in order to collect. The company expects a contribution from its co-defendant, BASF, as part of this settlement.
The only dicamba drift case to stand trial – Bader Farms – is not included in this resolution. The company believes the verdict in Bader Farms is “inconsistent with the evidence and the law” and will continue to present post-trial motions and appeal, if necessary.
Bayer said it strongly supports the safety and usefulness of its XtendiMax herbicide with VaporGrip technology and continues to improve training and education efforts to help growers use these products successfully.
Settlement-related cash payments are expected to begin in 2020. Bayer currently assumes that potential cash outflows will not exceed $ 5 billion in 2020 and $ 5 billion in 2021; the balance would be paid in 2022 or after. In order to fund these tax-treated payments, Bayer may use existing excess liquidity, future free cash flow, proceeds from the sale of Animal Health and additional bond issues, which will provide flexibility in handling the payments. settlement as well as the next due dates of the debt.
Based on the rating agency’s publications and the company’s communication with them, Bayer expects to maintain investment-grade credit ratings. On the strength of its solid underlying business, the company intends to maintain its dividend policy. At the same time, deleveraging the balance sheet remains a high priority.
Positioning for the future
“As we strive to put this major litigation behind us, Bayer can chart a course for the future and address the global health and nutrition challenges we face – not just today as we face. to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also in the long term, as we work to improve the quality of life for a growing and aging population of around 10 billion people by 2050, ”Baumann said. “More than 100,000 people are putting their energy into realizing our vision of ‘health for all, hunger for no one’ with medicines and agricultural products. We believe science and innovation will be essential for the future, just as they have been for Bayer serving customers and patients for nearly 160 years. We are committed to meeting these challenges responsibly, both to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to maintain transparency and constructive engagement with stakeholders which are essential to maintain public trust. in our products and in our business.
Bayer settles Roundup cancer lawsuits for up to $ 10.9 billion